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£250k prize launched for next generation of garden city

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A competition to design a new garden city with a £250,000 top prize has been launched

The second Wolfson Economics Prize calls for ‘visionary, economically viable and popular’ blueprints to turn Ebenezer Howard’s idea into a solution for Britain’s current housing crisis. 

The two-stage competition is backed by Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next and Conservative peer, and organised by right-leaning think-tank Policy Exchange.

‘The UK faces a genuine housing crisis. Garden cities could provide the answer,’ said Wolfson. 

He added: ‘Property prices move inexorably further from the reach of those without a foothold on the housing ladder. The answer must surely be to increase the supply of housing – the type of houses that people most want to live in, in the parts of the country they most want to live.

‘But how can we build houses without creating the urban blight with which we are all too familiar?’

Wolfson said ‘the challenge’ is to build new cities that are ‘a credit to our age – architecturally inspiring, practical and desirable, with great infrastructure, good transport and beautiful public spaces.’

The competition has been welcomed by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) which has been running a campaign to kickstart the next generation of garden cities. 

Kate Henderson, TCPA chief executive said: ‘As a nation we are facing a huge housing crisis and worsening affordability. We urgently need a reinvigorated vision for new communities. Having begun as the Garden Cities Association, we welcome the debate the Wolfson Prize will generate on how we can create beautiful, inclusive, sustainable communities that stand the test of time and put people in control. This is essential not just to our economic future, but also to the social and environmental wellbeing of our country.’

Lord Adonis tweeted his support for the competition: ‘Well done Simon Wolfson: offering £250,000 prize for best plan to create a new garden city. A key priority for the country.’

As well as the top-prize, there will be £10,000 runner-up prizes and a smaller prize fund of £5,000 to recognise entries that address the brief in ‘particularly innovative, creative or outstanding ways’.

Entrants are asked to submit a 10,000 word report covering the vision, economic viability and popularity of the proposals. The deadline for entries is 3 March 2014. The shortlisted entries are expected to be revealed in April with a winner in September. 

The jury includes Lend Lease director of sustainability Pascal Mittermaier and Tony Pidgley, chairman of Berkeley Group. 

Last year’s Wolfson Prize asked how best a country could leave the Euro. It was won by a team from Capital Economics who suggested keeping plans secret.
Laura Mark

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